Designation of  Orign

EU law protects geographical indications and indications of origins for agricultural products and foodstuffs.

European-wide regulations govern the protection of designations of origin. The origin must relate to a place or region and agricultural products and foodstuffs.

The quality or characteristics of the product must be due to the geographical environment with its inherent natural and human factors employed in the production process which takes place in that area.

Geographical Indications

The protected geographical indication is broader and may apply to any products in the area.  The same essential or exclusive connection required in the case of the designation of origin does not apply.

The product must have particular qualities, reputation or other characteristics attributable to the location. They need not be exclusive.

They may relate to the manner of preparation, processing, production or location.  The protected designation of origin requires all three.


Protection is obtained by registration.  Certain types of foods and drinks are excluded. Where a name becomes generic, registration may be refused.

The application for registration must be made by a group of persons, which may be an association or a corporate entity.  The application is permissible only if the relevant geographical area has characteristics which differ appreciably from those of neighbouring areas or with product characteristics which are different.

The application is made in the first instance to the relevant State.  If the State believes the application is qualified, it may send it to the European Commission.  Third parties must be allowed to appeal. The European Commission has 12 months to consider the application.


An objection must be made within six months of publication and must be made by a State.  An objector may send an objection to his State.

The basis of objection includes that the designation of origin is already protected, that it jeopardises the existence of an entirely or partly identical name or trademark or products that are legally on the market for at least five years or that the products are generic in nature.

The matter may be agreed upon between the state of the applicant and the state of the objector.  The Commission determines disputes having regard to fair and traditional usage and the likelihood of confusion.

Once registered, the direct and indirect commercial uses of the names in relation to other products is prohibited.

Cert of Specific Characteristics

An EU certificate of specific characteristics may be obtained to protect characteristics or sets of characteristics distinguishing agricultural products and foodstuffs from other similar products and foodstuffs of the same category.

The procedure is broadly as above.  Once registered, the name with the specific characteristic is protected subject to conditions.


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